Dr Yasar Yousafzai

Yasar Yousafzai

PhD Haematology 2015 

Yasar Yousafzai is the Director of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Public Health Reference Laboratory (PHRL), an associate professor at Khyber Medical University, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the UofG Institute of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation.

For the past two years, Yasar and his team have played an invaluable role in spearheading the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s fight against Covid-19. 

Yasar completed his PhD in Haematology in 2015 and was awarded an Honorary Research Fellow status at the UofG Institute of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation. It made a lasting impression; as an associate professor at Khyber Medical University, he sought to recreate something similar – the first of its kind in KP. This decision proved invaluable when in March 2020, Yasar was approached by government officials to brief on Covid-19. In the face of great uncertainty, Yasar was able to offer his lab to become KP’s first biosafe testing site: Public Health Reference Laboratory. 

Today, PHRL is one of Pakistan’s largest infectious diseases labs. It has conducted more than 1.5 million PCR tests, providing essential data central to Covid-19 policy. The dedicated vaccination centre has the capacity to deliver 2,000 doses a day and covers 60% of KP’s population. In March 2021, Yasar was honoured with one of Pakistan’s civilian awards, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Honour), for his role in establishing the Covid-19 testing services in KP. 

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Yasar’s work at PHRL speaks directly to the UN Sustainable Development Goal: good health and well-being for all. It serves as a focal point for Covid-19 education, research, and development. It has invested in a SARS-COV-2 genomic surveillance program which continues to help the global community to trace viral evolution in real-time. Testing for other infectious diseases including Dengue Fever, Typhoid Fever and Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever is also available at PHRL. 

Yasar’s future aims include establishing a centre for blood diseases and haematopoietic stem cell transplants. Before plunging into Covid-19 relief, Yasar worked diagnosing rare cancers. His facility diagnosed nearly 400 cases of haematological cancers, and his work was presented in American Society of Haematology’s Global Capacity8 Building Showcase.